General Assembly returns for 2011 session

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The Indiana Senate and House of Representatives reconvened this afternoon to begin the 2011 long session. The legislators still have time to file bills, but there are already several bills introduced that may affect Indiana courts and the legal community.

Senate Joint Resolution 2 proposes to prohibit the Indiana Supreme Court, Indiana Court of Appeals, Circuit Courts, or any other court established by the General Assembly from issuing a mandate, order, or writ requiring the state or a political subdivision to spend money for the operation of any court in the state. This proposed constitutional amendment must be adopted by two consecutive General Assemblies and be ratified by a majority of the state’s voters to become effective. It has not been previously agreed to by a General Assembly.

Senate Bill 14 proposes that the Attorney General represents a court that has issued an order of mandate for funds for court operations and prohibits the state from reimbursing a judge for expenses incurred in employing a private attorney to represent the court in an action for mandate of funds.

Senate Bill 10 tackles the issue of annexation remonstrance waivers, proposing that any waiver or release of the right to remonstrate against an annexation signed after June 30, 2011, will expire 10 years from the date it was executed. The issue of waivers often comes up in annexation proceedings, and did so recently in City of Kokomo, et al. v. Florence Pogue, et al., No. 34A02-1003-MI-356. Certain remonstrators executed sewer construction agreements with the City of Kokomo in 1991, 1993, or 1998 which contained explicit waiver of the right to remonstrate against any future annexation attempt by Kokomo.

SB 67 addresses issues involving administrative law judges, including establishing additional grounds for disqualifying an ALJ and that proceedings before an ALJ are de novo.

Senate Bill 91 seeks to unify the Henry and Madison courts into two unified Circuit Courts. SB 121 would allow the Allen Circuit judge to appoint a second full-time magistrate and remove his or her ability to appoint a hearing officer who has the powers of a magistrate and whose salary is paid by the county. Regarding Allen Superior Court elections, SB 149 seeks to remove the provision that prohibits a judge or a candidate for that court from accepting more than $10,000 in contributions from all sources to pay expenses connected with the candidacy.

SB 128 would require the judge of a city or town court to be an attorney in good standing in Indiana.

SB 97 spells out consumer legal funding transactions and establishes a procedure by which a company may provide a loan to a plaintiff in exchange for the contingent right to receive part of the potential proceeds from the action.

SB 169 deals with probate, trusts, and transfer on death transfers. The bill includes a provision that joint owners and other entities that own motor vehicles or watercraft may title transfer to a motor vehicle or watercraft as a transfer on death transaction. Currently, the law restricts the procedures to individuals who are the sole owners of these vehicles. The bill also states that in the case of an unsupervised estate in which it has been determined that the person died intestate, a will may not be probated unless it is presented before a closing statement is filed.

In the House, House Bill 1037 creates a new chapter regarding adoption subsidies for children in foster care. It would require payment by the Department of Child Services of the costs of certain health-related adoption subsidies for a child in foster care and makes a determination by DCS with respect to subsidies subject to administrative review.

HB 1040 would prohibit a court from considering a reduction or elimination of a parent’s income due to the parent’s incarceration when establishing or modifying a child support order.

HB 1041 provides that the four Lake Superior Court County division judges be nominated by the Lake County Superior Judicial Nominating Commission and appointed by the governor and be subject to retention every six years. Currently, these judges are elected every six years.

A complete list of introduced bills thus far is available on the Indiana General Assembly’s website.  State representatives have until Jan. 11 to file bills; senators have until Jan. 13. The session is scheduled to end April 29.


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